When it Went Wrong

The loss to Washington was tough to swallow that day, and the subsequent consequences are a lot to chew on as well. - USA Today Sports

In Some Enormous Moments Against Washington (Imagine That!)

By now, bracket fanatics know that the Pac-12 put half the conference in the NCAA tournament, and there were some pleasant surprises, in that despite losing the conference championship game, Arizona hung on to a #1 seed.

UCLA is in good shape as a #4, and as expected, Colorado is in again, and despite being without Spencer Dinwiddie for most of the conference season, as well as the NIT.

The Bruins Steve Alford and the Buffs Tad Boyle have shown what coaching can accomplish.

Oregon's late season surge has the Ducks flying back to the big dance as well.

Arizona St. is also in as expected, though as a 10 seed, the Sun Devils may flame out pretty soon.

And in what's sure to produce a lot of rhetoric in the Bay Area, Stanford (and coach Johnny Dawkins) is in, and California (and coach Mike Montgomery) is not. Reading Jon Wilner's analysis of this in the days to come should be entertaining.

The Bears are still playing though, joining Utah in the NIT.

Two teams you won't find in even the second tier tournament though are Washington and Oregon St. The Huskies and Beavers are going to have to see if the CBI is interested, and then decide if its in their best interests.

Players from both teams have said they want to keep playing, even if its in the 3rd tier tournament, but that's still a big disappointment for teams that stated the NCAA was their goal early in the season, even though an NIT run was probably more realistic for some time now.

Yet neither got either, despite Washington finishing 17-15, and .500 in the Pac-12, and Oregon St. at 16-15, and 8-10.

So when did it go un-recoverably wrong for Oregon St.?

Look no further than the second meeting with those Huskies back on February 22. Having already been out-played and out-coached in Seattle in the first meeting, an 87-81 Washington win, it was essentially a play-off play-in game that Saturday at Gill. And it was as close to a play-off game atmosphere as its been in the the building in a long time too, as one of the biggest crowds, 5,280, turned out in a season when the old barn was usually not close to half full, even though the Beavers were in better position deeper into the conference season than they have been since the 80's.

It was supposed to be the pivotal game when Oregon St., fresh off a win over Washington St., launched a late season run.

Instead, it was the worst loss of the year. (And the second time this winter that's happened with the Huskies on the other side, as football fans probably can't forget.)

As Connor detailed, the 86-62 rout also bubbled the Beavers over.

It was a defeat that no one saw coming, certainly in the way it happened.

"It's just so out of character. It's just preposterous," head coach Craig Robinson said of the Beavers' rebounding effort. The Huskies outrebounded Oregon State, 43-23.

And remember, due to early season injuries, the Beavers massively out-sized the Huskies.

But why did it happen?

Robinson's assessment seemed spot on at the time, and the passage of time hasn't changed that.

"The enormity of the moment got to us!"

The Beavers would rebound to beat USC 76-66, but though they were competitive in both contests, lost to both UCLA and Arizona, the top two teams in the conference, but identical 74-69 scores.

It took overtime to upset tournament bound Arizona St. 78-76 on senior day, but it was too late to move up from the #10 seed in the Pac-12 Tournament, and avoid a showdown with the hot Ducks, which ended in an 88-74 Oregon win.

A win over Washington that day wouldn't by itself have been enough to ensure an NIT bid, as by itself, a 17-14 record probably wouldn't earn an invite since 17 wins didn't get the Huskies one either.

But avoiding Oregon would have meant a first round matchup with Utah, and the Utes were a much better matchup, making an 18th win a possibility. That, and the RPI boost of another game against Arizona, even if the Beavers weren't able to pull the upset, probably does get an NIT invite. And probably a contract extension for Robinson, since it would be the highest level the team would have advanced to since the 2005 NIT trip.

Oh, the enormity of the moment!

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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